Hovercraft versus helicopters for flood rescue operations
An Iraqi military helicopter providing aid to civilians fleeing the IS militants recently crashed near the Sinjar mountains in northern Iraq, killing the pilot, army spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi. The helicopter crashed after too many civilians tried to board it - helicopters are weight sensitive, and have lifting restrictions, so sad to hear this news. Helicopters are weight sensitive vehicles like hovercraft, and rescuers need to understand the payload restrictions that affect rescue missions.
Compared to the cost for purchase and operating costs, a rescue hovercraft can offer far better value than a helicopter in many search and rescue scenarios. For the price of one helicopter, you could buy 10 or 20 rescue hovercraft. Obviously lifting refugees off the top of mountains can only be done by helicopters, but in flood, ice, mud, sand and inland water rescue scenarios, hovercraft can prove very useful.
The HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopter (a version of the US Army’s Black Hawk, made by Sikorsky, has a four man crew, can carry 12 troops and is capable of hoisting 600 lb (270kg).
|Rescue Helicopters Weight Limitations|
During rescue missions, a helicopter will generate 100 mph downdraft winds and this requires long winch cables. A winch man is usually lowered to secure the victim to the safety harness, and he may weigh 200 pounds, leaving 400 pounds max limit, so maximum of two victims can be lifted. Helicopters are noisy, so helicopter to ground communications rely on radio contact, not possible during flooding emergencies.
Flood rescue victims try to escape rising waters by climbing trees, pylons or buildings. Helicopters are restricted in operation in areas where their rotor blades may make contact with tall structures. Tree cover will restrict visibility.
Rescue hovercraft have better communications contact with the ground, have no propeller to get snagged on under-water obstacles or plastic bags, rice sacks etc. Flooded waters are usually contaminated by sewerage, and boat rescue crew usually have to get out of the boat and push - street furniture, wire fencing and damage propellers making them useless.
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